RHODE ISLAND

ROSE SOCIETY
                                     
                                     

 

ON JUDGING THE OLD GARDEN ROSES
    Lily Shohan
Clinton Corners, NY 12514

(reprint from American Rose Annual 1984)

  

[ARA] Editor's Note: A long-time authority on the old roses, Lily gives us all a "refresher course". . .judges and exhibitors alike. We tend to get careless about the OCRs, taking them for granted - that's particularly confusing to the novice and the newer members at a Rose Show.

Dale Martin once referred to a rosarian's growing appreciation of floribunda roses and compared it to the appreciation of a music listener who goes from country-and-western to semi-classical and classical. I would hope that all our judges will learn to appreciate the true classics of the rose world, the old garden roses.

An old garden rose is any rose belonging to a group or a classification in existence prior to 1867. This was chosen as a cut-off date since it is the year La France was introduced and, therefore, marks the beginning of hybrid teas and modern roses. The old garden roses include the classes of albas, bourbons, centifolias, chinas, damasks, gallicas, hybrid perpetuals, noisettes, Portlands, spinosissimas, species and teas. These are all old garden roses, regardless of the introduction date of a specific variety. Parkzauber, a Kordes rose, is classed as a centifolia and is an old garden rose, despite its recent introduction. And, it should be emphasized, any variety introduced prior to 1867 has to be considered an old garden rose, regardless of the class. This includes a few mavericks which don't fit into our classification strait jackets.

The Dowager Queen Award is something else. The American Rose Society makes this award and specifies that it can be given only to a variety introduced prior to 1867. Frau Karl Druschki is a hybrid perpetual and, therefore, an old garden rose . . . but it was introduced after 1867 and so does not qualify for the Dowager Queen Award.

The criteria for judging old roses differ from those for modern roses. In form, for instance, the old rose should show a symmetrical arrange­ment of petals and a circular outline, just as the hybrid tea should. However, with the exception of the more modern hybrid perpetuals, the old rose does not exhibit the high center demanded of the exhibition hybrid tea. The requirement for a circular outline is important and, for this reason, a bud which distorts the symmetrical form of an old garden rose would cause points to be taken off. The exhibitor should have removed it (ALL roses may be disbudded) or he should have bent it back.

An old rose may resemble a zinnia with overlapping small petals, or it may have a button center, formed of inward curving petals. Or it may have the petals reflexed, almost in a ball. Or it may be quartered. Quarter­ing is a point of beauty with these roses, being a very formal arrange­ment of the fully double, open flower. It should be remembered that the quartering may be in fours, or in thirds, or the bloom may have two centers. This is not a split center and should not be penalized by the judge or anyone else. Moreover, a muddled center is characteristic of such very old kinds as the centifolias, and they should not be downgraded for fail­ing to exhibit a button center or quartering.

Substance in old roses is also different from that in the modern types. These roses are often fragile and delicate. Fragility is part of their charm. A rose, such as Blanchefleur, has petals so thin as to be nearly transparent. Such a rose should not be penalized for lacking a substance it never had. However, should the flower develop signs of having wilted, or being brown around the edges or on the back petals, then it should certainly lose points. Fresh, yellow stamens are an indication of a fresh bloom, but their absence should not be taken to mean that the bloom has gone by. The stamens may be brown, orange or red, but the flower may still be fresh and crisp. In which case the flower has to be examined closely to make sure.

Colors, too, run to different shades and hues from the roses of today. Missing are the mercurochrome oranges, and present is a rich assort­ment of purple, plum, magenta, cerise, mauve and wine colors. Some of these colors may appear to be the result of refrigeration, and the judge must learn when this has happened and when the color is typical of the variety. If in doubt, check the stamens. It would be unusual to see bright yellow stamens and faded petal color.

There is another difference of viewpoint in the matter of stem and foliage. The earlier gardeners were interested solely in the flower, and many of these roses look short-stemmed and dumpy to us now. We should, therefore, expect the stem to be shorter and the foliage to be skimpier than with modern kinds. On the other hand, we can also give extra credit to a long stem and lush leaves when we see them.

This is the place to point out that, as with modern roses, a stem-on-stem at the show causes disqualification. The only exceptions are species, species sports, and species hybrids (where at least one parent must be a species rose). There are many old roses and shrubs that would look better if exhibited as a spray with last year's wood, but this is not allow­ed. Even in the case of some species where it is allowed, Rosa rugosa, for instance, a long-stemmed, blooming shoot will occur and makes a better exhibit than the woody stem with side shoots.

Identification, as with all roses, is a matter of checking the descrip­tion in Modern Roses, examining the type of foliage, thorns, sepals, stipules and other components of the rose, and then, in case there is still a question, giving the exhibitor the benefit of the doubt. That's true everywhere in the show; unless you are certain the rose is misnamed, it cannot be disqualified.

The growers of the old garden roses do not expect to convert the judges to a preference for their favorite roses, but they are entitled to the same consideration and attention given to the modern roses. A little apprecia­tion is all you need for these ancestors of our present-day Queen of Show. Such care and consideration cannot hurt the judge ... it might do him some good . . . and every show would benefit from it.

 

Editor's Note: A long-time authority on the old roses, Lily gives us all a "refresher course". . .judges and exhibitors alike. We tend to careless about the OGRs, taking them for granted - that's particularly confusing to the novice and the newer members at a Rose Show.

Dale Martin once referred to a rosarian's growing appreciation of floribunda roses and compared it to the appreciation of a music listener who goes from country-and-western to semi-classical and classical. I would hope that all our judges will learn to appreciate the true classics of the rose world, the old garden roses.

An old garden rose is any rose belonging to a group or a classification in existence prior to 1867. This was chosen as a cut-off date since it is the year La France was introduced and, therefore, marks the beginning of hybrid teas and modern roses. The old garden roses include the classes of albas, bourbons, centifolias, chinas, damasks, gallicas, hybrid perpetuals, noisettes, Portlands, spinosissimas, species and teas. These are all old garden roses, regardless of the introduction date of a specific variety. Parkzauber, a Kordes rose, is classed as a centifolia and is an old garden rose, despite its recent introduction. And, it should be em­phasized, any variety introduced prior to 1867 has to be considered an old garden rose, regardless of the class. This includes a few mavericks which don't fit into our classification strait jackets.

The Dowager Queen Award is something else. The American Rose Society makes this award and specifies that it can be given only to a variety introduced prior to 1867. Frau Karl Druschki is a hybrid perpetual and, therefore, an old garden rose . . . but it was introduced after 1867 and so does not qualify for the Dowager Queen Award.

The criteria for judging old roses differ from those for modern roses. In form, for instance, the old rose should show a symmetrical arrange­ment of petals and a circular outline, just as the hybrid tea should. However, with the exception of the more modern hybrid perpetuals, the old rose does not exhibit the high center demanded of the exhibition hybrid tea. The requirement for a circular outline is important and, for this reason, a bud which distorts the symmetrical form of an old garden rose would cause points to be taken off. The exhibitor should have removed it (ALL roses may be disbudded) or he should have bent it back.

An old rose may resemble a zinnia with overlapping small petals, or it may have a button center, formed of inward curving petals. Or it may have the petals reflexed, almost in a ball. Or it may be quartered. Quarter­ing is a point of beauty with these roses, being a very formal arrange­ment of the fully double, open flower. It should be remembered that the quartering may be in fours, or in thirds, or the bloom may have two centers. This is not a split center and should not be penalized by the judge or anyone else. Moreover, a muddled center is characteristic of such very old kinds as the centifolias, and they should not be downgraded for fail­ing to exhibit a button center or quartering.

Substance in old roses is also different from that in the modern types. These roses are often fragile and delicate. Fragility is part of their charm. A rose, such as Blanchefleur, has petals so thin as to be nearly transparent. Such a rose should not be penalized for lacking a substance it never had. However, should the flower develop signs of having wilted, or being brown around the edges or on the back petals, then it should certainly lose points. Fresh, yellow stamens are an indication of a fresh bloom, but their absence should not be taken to mean that the bloom has gone by. The stamens may be brown, orange or red, but the flower may still be fresh and crisp.  In which case the flower has to be examined closely to make sure.

Colors, too, run to different shades and hues from the roses of today. Missing are the mercurochrome oranges, and present is a rich assort­ment of purple, plum, magenta, cerise, mauve and wine colors. Some of these colors may appear to be the result of refrigeration, and the judge must learn when this has happened and when the color is typical of the variety. If in doubt, check the stamens. It would be unusual to see bright yellow stamens and faded petal color.

There is another difference of viewpoint in the matter of stem and foliage. The earlier gardeners were interested solely in the flower, and many of these roses look short-stemmed and dumpy to us now. We should, therefore, expect the stem to be shorter and the foliage to be skimpier than with modern kinds. On the other hand, we can also give extra credit to a long stem and lush leaves when we see them.

This is the place to point out that, as with modern roses, a stem-on-stem at the show causes disqualification. The only exceptions are species, species sports, and species hybrids (where at least one parent must be a species rose). There are many old roses and shrubs that would look better if exhibited as a spray with last year's wood, but this is not allow­ed. Even in the case of some species where it is allowed, Rosa rugosa, for instance, a long-stemmed, blooming shoot will occur and makes a better exhibit than the woody stem with side shoots.

Identification, as with all roses, is a matter of checking the descrip­tion in Modern Roses, examining the type of foliage, thorns, sepals, stipules and other components of the rose, and then, in case there is still a question, giving the exhibitor the benefit of the doubt. That's true everywhere in the show; unless you are certain the rose is misnamed, it cannot be disqualified.

The growers of the old garden roses do not expect to convert the judges to a preference for their favorite roses, but they are entitled to the same consideration and attention given to the modern roses. A little apprecia­tion is all you need for these ancestors of our present-day Queen of Show. Such care and consideration cannot hurt the judge ... it might do him some good . . . and every show would benefit from it. 

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Date last edited: 01/21/10
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